Siblings of Children with ASD are Also at High Risk

According to a new study conducted by Yale School of Medicine, younger siblings of children with ASD are at high risk for developing the disorder as well. Furthermore, 20% of younger siblings of children with autism develop the condition by the time they reach the age of 3.

This study, recently published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, is the first large-scale study aimed at identifying the specific social and communicative behaviors that distinguish young children with ASD apart from their neurotypical peers. According to the study, 57% of the younger siblings of children with ASD (who eventually developed the disorder as well) showed significant warning signs such as lack of eye contact and repetitive behaviors at less than a year and a half old.

For the study, researchers analyzed the medical history and behaviors of 719 infants with siblings on the spectrum. These infants were assessed again as toddlers, at the age of 18 months, then again at 36 months, to study social, communicative, and repetitive behaviors that could be signs of autism. In particular, they looked at three distinct combinations of features at the age of 18 months to possibly predict ASD. For one, they looked at poor eye contact combined with a lack of communicative gestures. Secondly, they looked at poor eye contact in combination with a lack of imaginative play. Lastly, they studied a lack of giving, or sharing, along with a presence of repetitive behavior.

The behavioral profiles at the stage of 18-months predicted ASD at the age of 36 months with 82.7% accuracy in their initial sample, and with 77.3% accuracy in a validation sample. The results of this study emphasize the importance of early detection. Early detection is even more critical for siblings of children with autism, as their level of risk is evidently at a much higher rate than that of their peers. Katarzyna Chawarska, associate professor of the Yale Child Study Center and the Department of Pediatrics at Yale School of Medicine, as well as lead author of the study, states, “While the majority of siblings of children with ASD will not develop the condition themselves, for those who do, one of the key priorities is finding more effective ways of identifying and treating them as early as possible.”

Chawarska further emphasizes the importance of early screening by stating, “Our study reinforces the need for repeated diagnostic screening in the first three years of life to identify individual cases of ASD as soon as behavioral symptoms are apparent.” She continues, “Linking these developmental dynamics with underlying neurobiology may advance our understanding of causes of ASD and further efforts to personalize treatment for ASD by tailoring it to specific clinical profiles and their developmental dynamics.”

This entry was posted in Autism America, Autism Awareness, Autism News, Autism Research, Autism Treatment and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>